WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission announced yesterday that Meredith Cross, a partner at WilmerHale LLP here and former SEC staff member, has been tapped to head the commission’s division of corporate finance.

Her appointment is significant for the municipal market because staff from corporate finance, along with the division of trading and markets, are expected to play a role in SEC chairman Mary Schapiro’s plans to boost municipal disclosure later this year.

It is also notable because Cross is the wife of John J. Cross 3d, the tax legislative counsel for the Treasury Department’s office of tax policy, who oversees tax-exempt guidance emerging from Treasury. Reached by phone, Cross said she expects to start at the SEC soon, “once I finish up my work here.”

She previously served at the SEC for several years in the 1990s, including as deputy director in the division of corporation finance while playing a key role in disclosure-related rules and plain-English initiatives for investors, the SEC said in a statement.

“We are so pleased that Meredith has agreed to leave the private sector and return to the SEC at such a critical time to serve investors and advise the commission,” Schapiro said. “She will be instrumental as we consider important issues as shareholders’ access to the proxy to nominate directors, and ways to improve the overall quality and clarity of disclosure provided to investors.”

At Wilmer Hale, Cross has advised clients on corporate and securities matters and has been involved in a full range of issues faced by public and private companies in capital raising and financial reporting, the SEC said. She has served as chair or co-chair of her firm’s corporate practice group for more than seven years, first at Wilmer Cutler & Pickering and, following its merger with Hale and Dorr, at the combined firm.

Prior to serving at the SEC, Cross practiced securities law at King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta. Upon graduation from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1982, she clerked for Albert J. Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. She earned an undergraduate degree in 1979 from Duke University.

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